The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Delhi government to release Rs 265 crore from the Environment Compensation Charge (ECC) for the construction of Regional Rapid Transit System corridor between Delhi, Ghaziabad and Meerut.
The first phase of the project will connect Delhi with Meerut and the estimate cost of the 82.15-km corridor is Rs 31,632 crore. It is expected to reduce the travel time to 60 minutes.
A bench of justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta said the first-year share of the Delhi government in the project, which comes to Rs 265 crore, be released from ECC within a week as the corridor is aimed at decongesting roads in the national capital and there should be no delay in completing it.
The court was informed that the Centre's share for the project was Rs 5,687 crore while the share of Uttar Pradesh government and Delhi government were Rs 5,828 crore and Rs 1,138 crore, respectively.
The bench said the Delhi government would release its first-year cost of Rs 265 crore for the project from the ECC in this financial year.
"We direct the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) to make budgetary allocation from next year for the RRTS project," the bench said.
It said, "In our opinion, the GNCTD is legally and constitutionally bound to make available the fund" for the project.
Advocate Aparajita Singh, assisting the court as an amicus curiae in pollution-related matters, told the court that Rs 1,106 crore fund under ECC was lying with the Delhi government and the Environment Pollution Control Authority has already said that the first-year share of Delhi government can be given from it.
Singh said the first-year share of Delhi is Rs 265 crore out of which Rs 90 crore was tax which would be refunded later.
The bench made it clear that Rs 90-crore tax, which would be refunded later, should be deposited in the ECC.
The court said that though it was giving one-week time to Delhi government to release the fund, the same should be done within three days.
"We are giving you seven days time but the order should be complied with within three days," the bench told a Delhi government officer who was present in the court.
The counsel appearing for Delhi government said they had already submitted a plan in the apex court on utilisation of ECC fund and this would be used in purchasing 1,000 electric buses and 900 feeder buses to augment public transport system in the national capital.
Of the 82.15-kilometre-long corridor, Delhi will have a 13-kilometre section with stations at Sarai Kale Khan, New Ashok Nagar and Anand Vihar.
During the hearing, the amicus curiae told the court that the Uttar Pradesh government has given its share of the project but the Delhi government has been saying that they do not have the fund and the Centre should give their share.
She said the Asian Development Bank has also agreed to grant loan for the RRTS project.
When Delhi government's counsel said the ECC fund is to be utilised for purchase of electric buses and feeder buses to augment public transport, the bench observed, "What we are doing is also for the welfare of public of Delhi".
The court observed that these buses will be purchased in installment so there will not be any issue if Rs 265 crore fund from ECC will be used for RRTS project.
The apex court also asked the national capital region transport corporation (NCRTC) and Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs to place before it the plan for implementing the other two phases of RRTS project Delhi-Alwar and Delhi-Panipat corridors.
It said the plan be submitted before it by March 31.
The EPCA had told the apex court that money from ECC could be used for funding Delhi government's first year share in RRTS corridor which is a project of "national importance".
It had also said that out of Delhi government's share of Rs 1,138 crore, which is around 3.4 per cent of the total cost and spread over four-five years, the cash fund needed was Rs 686 crore and the rest was paid through tax waiver and land cost.
These issues have cropped up before the court when it was hearing a matter relating to air pollution in Delhi-National Capital Region.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)